Backflow is a serious plumbing issue you will hopefully never encounter in your own home. To make sure you don't end up confronting backflow issues in your home, you need to understand both what backflow is and how to prevent this dangerous plumbing situation.
How Your Supply & Drainage Lines Work
You have two different types of pipes that take care of your plumbing needs. First, you have the supply lines. The supply lines carry clean water you need into your home. It is essential for the supply lines to stay clean to keep the water supply to your home sanitary.
Then you have the drainage lines. The drainage lines carry waste water away from your home, to your city water treatment facility or your septic tank.
Introduction of Non-Potable Water into the Supply Lines
Backflow is a plumbing emergency that impacts your supply lines. Backflow is a situation when an undesirable combination of water or liquid substances flows through your water supply pipes instead of clean, potable water.
When the water-pressure balance in your supply lines is upset, backflow can happen. The water pressure is designed to be higher on the receiving end. When the water pressure drops on the receiving end, backflow can occur.
When backflow occurs, a water source other than potable water enters your supply lines. Backflow liquids could be made up of untreated wastewater, fertilizers, or pesticides from an irrigation system, or mineral build-up from an appliance.
The Danger That Backflow Presents
Backflow is dangerous because it can introduce contaminants into the water supply lines for your home. A backflow situation can cause contaminants to get into your pipes and faucets. These contaminants may be harmless, or they could carry chemicals, toxins, microorganisms, or diseases with them. Backflow is dangerous because it compromises the purity and safety of your drinking water.
Why Backflow Occurs
Backflow happens on a daily basis throughout municipal water systems. Backflow becomes dangerous when contaminated water makes its way into your home's water lines. Backflow can be triggered by a city-wide issue or by something inside of your home.
For example, the failure of a pumping station, a break in the city main water line, or the activation of a nearby fire hydrant can cause a backflow situation. A reversal of pressure, for example, could occur between your hot water tank and your supply lines, resulting in mineral deposits and sediment buildup getting into your supply lines from that specific appliance.
Protecting Against Backflow
Luckily, there are numerous measures you can take to ensure that backflow doesn't compromise your water supply lines.
One of the best ways to prevent backflow throughout your plumbing system is with a check valve. A check valve makes sure water only flows in one direction. If any water pressure is detected from the wrong side, the valve will engage and prevent the water from getting into your supply lines.
Atmospheric Vacuum Breaker
An atmospheric vacuum breaker (AVB) is a specific device that creates an air gap in your system. An air gap can prevent backflow from particular devices, such as your toilet or your washing machine. An AVB creates an air gap that will keep backflow water from getting into your supply lines.
Backflow can lead to contaminated supply lines and faucets, which then require time and money to clean and sanitize. Your best defense against backflow is to have backflow prevention devices in place to protect against backflow situations.
Call the plumbing team at Souza & Viviani Plumbing Co. to inspect your plumbing system. We can make sure you have the proper backflow preventions in place to stop your home's water supply from being compromised by contaminants.